England beat France 19-14 in Rugby World Cup warm-up
|England (12) 19|
|Tries: Watson 2, May Cons: Farrell 2|
|France (9) 14|
|Try: Ouedraogo Pens: Parra 3|
England survived a pounding up front to beat France in their opening World Cup warm-up game at Twickenham.
The hosts took an early 12-3 lead after two stunning Anthony Watson tries.
But the strength of France's pack gave Morgan Parra the chance to kick two penalties to make it 12-9 at the break.
A superb Jonny May try saw England pull clear again and although the power of the French saw them cut the margin to five points as Fulgence Ouedraogo drove over from a maul, the hosts held on.
What made the difference?
Long gone are the days when French flair would take on England's brutal efficiency and it was the cutting edge of the backline, with debutant centres Henry Slade and Sam Burgess both impressing (albeit in very different fashion) that made the difference.
Full-back Alex Goode surely booked his World Cup spot with a classy display before being replaced early in the second half, while May and Watson were a constant threat.
That is not to say England won easily. An experienced France pack frequently had the better of the hosts at the scrum and in the second half, with England reduced to 14 men after Calum Clark received their second yellow card of the night - Burgess was shown the first - they threatened to overwhelm England on occasions.
In the end, England's attacking potency when they had the ball, plus a couple of vital turnovers from replacement flanker James Haskell, was enough to see them home.
England's strong start
With Burgess smashing everything in defence and Slade and Goode showing lovely touches in attack, England started with a bang and scored the first try when Exeter's Slade found Watson 10 metres out.
The 21-year-old Bath man had Brice Dulin in front of him and about five metres to work in, but a sizzling sidestep left Dulin dizzy as Watson raced over.
Soon after, May came scorching into the line and took three men out of play before feeding Watson to race over from 25 metres.
France were pedestrian in comparison, but their scrum was on top and Parra's boot ensured England were only three points up at the break.
Hosts finish under siege
Five minutes after the restart, May was the beneficiary as Goode's delightful chip-pass enabled him to finish off a fine England attack, but that was to be the last points of the night for the hosts.
The mighty French pack took the game by the scruff of the neck and succeeded in sending flanker Ouedraogo over from a rampant driving maul.
But their lack of attacking threat out wide limited the danger and although the England pack wilted on occasion - they were trampled underfoot at one scrum - they dug deep to repel a series of French assaults and secure a victory which was far closer that it appeared it would be earlier in the game.
England: Goode; Watson, Slade, Burgess, May; Farrell, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, Webber, Brookes, Kruis, Parling, Wood, Clark, Morgan.
Replacements: Cipriani for Goode (50), Twelvetrees for Slade (66), Care for Wigglesworth (52), Corbisiero for M Vunipola (64), Cowan-Dickie for Webber (56), Wilson for Brookes (56), Attwood for Parling (56), Haskell for Morgan (40).
Sin Bin: Burgess (36), Clark (54).
France: Spedding; Guitoune, Lamerat, Dumoulin, Dulin; Trinh-Duc, Parra; Debaty, Szarzewski, Mas, Maestri, Flanquart, Ouedraogo, Nyanga, Picamoles.
Replacements: Fickou for Dulin (17), Tales for Trinh-Duc (65), Guirado for Debaty (54), Chiocci for Szarzewski (54), Atonio for Mas (51), Vahaamahina for Maestri (66), Goujon for Nyanga (56).
Not Used: Kockott.
Ref: John Lacey (Ireland).
|England's World Cup pool games|
|Friday, 18 September, 20:00 BST: England v Fiji, Twickenham Stadium|
|Saturday, 26 September, 20:00: England v Wales, Twickenham Stadium|
|Saturday, 3 October, 20:00: England v Australia, Twickenham Stadium|
|Saturday, 10 October, 20:00: England v Uruguay, City of Manchester Stadium|